Boston College's defensive tackle tandem weighs in at a combined 675lbs. Florida State's offensive line is one of the smallest (and THE youngest) in college football. How are we going to handle this problem? I went to the zone blocking experts... the Denver Broncos
Also inside... daily updates
One of the great advantages of being part of the SBNation is that you can interact with other team's fans. Denver has a great site: The Mile High Report.
I came to them with a question:
I'm the managing editor of Tomahawk Nation, the Florida State wing of SBnation.
The Noles are averaging over 200 rushing yards per conference game despite having the youngest (no starters over 19 years old) and one of the lightest offensive lines in college football. We are fully immersed in the zone scheme with the light, athletic linemen.
When I think zone scheme with light linemen, I think Denver Broncos. I'm hoping that someone here would be willing to do a mini Q&A this week.
We are facing BC Saturday Night at 8 Eastern on ESPN. They feature 2 defensive tackles that go 6'4 325 and 6'4 345. Those are big NFL DT's, but they are monsters in College.
In thinking about this challenge I thought about those Baltimore Raven teams with Sirigusa and Sam Adams. Would anyone care to describe how the Broncos did against this group or any similar team that featured any huge defensive tackles? What adjustments, if any, did/ does the Denver offense make when facing 2 slow big huge DT's within their zone scheme? Does this personnel set cause the zone scheme trouble?
If it is of any help, BC's DE's and LB's are very slow.
As it turns out, these guys know what they're talking about. They provided me with some good answers, so check that out. Here's a sample... and he raises an interesting issue:
The main idea of the scheme is that you want to get the linemen pursuing laterally, and use their momentum against them. Also, you need to be good at cut-blocking on the backside, to open up cut-back lanes. (Note: A proper cut-block is aimed at the thighs of the man being blocked, NOT his knees. Most football writers don’t understand this.)
What often gives a zone scheme trouble is when the D-linemen set their mind to occupying the offensive linemen, and preventing them from moving laterally, like the scheme dictates. Really, the Broncos have often struggled to run the ball against 3-4 schemes with large linemen. The bright side, though, is that if defensive linemen are programmed not to pursue, you can get a lot done with play action and bootleg stuff. It gets to be a matter of picking your poison.
The key to success of the zone scheme in running the ball, is getting blockers to the second level, and hitting linebackers with good timing. If you can do that, and you can get the big DTs moving laterally and/or cut them to the ground frequently, you can gash a defense repeatedly.
Go to the link to check out the rest of the responses. Definitely worth it.
Towards the end of the article, a their site's annointed expert chimed in and linked me to this piece on zone blocking. Every diehard FSU fan who wants to understand our improvements in the running game needs to read that. I'm about to start throwing around terms like "1C" and "ZB" on a regular basis.
The author of that Piece linked me to an article by Bob Davie on the zone scheme, who is apparently regarded as an excellent teacher of X's and O's. Read this one as well, it's one of Davies better articles (though all are good).
All of these articles lead me to a conclusion: we will run all over BC, unless they get away with holding our linemen. Huh? What? Defensive linemen holding? See! If you had read the above links instead of just scanning this post, you'd already know. Defensive Holding. If you are really, really nerdy, it's Rule 9-3 Article 4b and 4d. I watched the BC tape the other night, and BC does do this; especially in early downs. That's a problem for us. What did I do about it?
Talked to Jim Young of ACCsports.com, of course. He helped to alert the public to this important (to insane Nole fans only) issue:
Here’s the concern I’m hearing from FSU fans who follow the X’s and O’s closely. They feel that Boston College’s defensive tackles frequently hold opposing offensive linemen. (Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not the reverse) It’s a move that’s designed to clog up the middle and free up the BC linebackers to make tackles. If that happens against the Seminoles, it’s a problem, because a key element of the FSU zone blocking schemes is having its linemen get off their initial blocks and move on to the second level, i.e. the linebackers. If this is true, I’m betting the FSU coaches have already placed a call to Doug Rhoads, the ACC football officiating coordinator.
My guess its that they do this a lot less this weekend; partially because we are so quick, and partially because the refs will be looking for it. 2nd level... here we come!
I dug up some old radio soundbytes from 1998 from the Denver-Green Bay Super Bowl, when everyone was worried about Green Bay's huge size advantage (Denver didn't have a 300lb OLineman, and Green bay had 400LB Gilbert Brown)
Also in Young's mailbag (this guy is good and we are adding him to the list of suggested reading):
I knew Russell Wilson has been playing very well for N.C. State of late, but I went to the stats to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating the redshirt freshman’s prowess. Trust me. I’m not. His first college game was cut short by an injury. He then naturally struggled in his first game upon returning from a concussion, against Clemson. Since then? Here’s the stat line over his next six games- 84 of 142 (59 percent) for 1004 yards, 10 TDS and ZERO interceptions. Yeah, I’d say he’s been a bright spot for the struggling Wolfpack.
Wake Forest... have fun with that. Anyone else loving NC State +4? I'll go bold and say that Wake loses @ NC State this weekend and then to Boston College as well.
Tony Carter was in a blue practice Jersey, but no players missed practice due to injury.
The basketball team won by a good margin tonight but I heard that they played like garbage and that Demercy fouled out quickly. Apparently 3 guys missed the game with injury
Finally, 3 really cool links: FREE AUDIO OF THE COACHES PRESS CONFERENCES! These rock. Thanks to cstv and seminoles.com for these. Did I mention they are FREE? If you've never listened to these guys talk, they're hillarious in the Monday Presser's (especially Mickey). These are .mp3 doanloads, and yes, they work on your ipod. Make sure to bring the headphones to work from now on.
Clemson got a TD and a FG on their first 2 poss but the rest of the game was dominated by Florida St. In fact, FSU fmbl’d a punt at their own 9 giving CU a TD 2pl later and roughed the punter, allowing CU to keep a drive alive for a 20 yd FG. FSU was also int’d in the EZ on a tipped pass but still came away with a 41-27 win...
Also today, I'll have: "Noles by the Numbers" and the updated blogpoll.
Thursday should feature the conclusion of "inside the seminole film room" and "the conversation with the boston college expert.